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Sugar Bowl expansion among new features this season at Lake Tahoe ski resorts

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The weather remains an unknown, but below are some things that will definitely hold true for this year’s ski season.

Sugar Bowl expansion: Think you know the terrain at Sugar Bowl ski resort? Don’t be so quick to answer.

For returning skiers and snowboarders who frequent the popular resort, there is some new territory to check out. Sugar Bowl installed a new chairlift that will provide access to advanced and expert terrain on the west side of the resort.

The Crow’s Peak chairlift will open the Strawberry Fields area of the mountain, just below Crow’s Nest Peak. It will feature 1,000 vertical feet and include two new groomed runs, excellent tree skiing through glades, chutes and cliffs, and also provide a wind-protected area on inclement weather days.

Sugar Bowl ski resort is investing more than $20 million into widespread upgrades this season, which also include a new fitness and aquatic center, and a ski-in/ski-out campus for Sugar Bowl Academy that costs $12 million. The campus has classrooms, dormitories and training space for 75 student-athletes.

“The new campus at Sugar Bowl will definitely put us on par with the best sports academies in the world,” says Tracy Keller, head of the Sugar Bowl Ski Team and Academy.

Northstar final Olympic tune-up for Shaun White? Northstar California will be on the national radar in early January when some of the country’s top skiers and snowboarders descend on the Lake Tahoe ski resort.

Shaun White will be the marquee name at Northstar in the halfpipe and slopestyle events at the 2014 Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix on Jan. 9-12. White and many of the best skiers and snowboarders will be competing at the Olympic qualifying event.

“It depends on where your point standing is (coming into the Northstar Grand Prix),” said White, who has trained at Northstar the previous two winters. “It’s more practice if you have locked up a spot for yourself. It can be grueling if you’re trying to win and put yourself in that pressure situation to land that run.”

The event is an opportunity to see some of the biggest names in the sport several weeks before the Sochi Olympics (Feb. 7-23).

New base area at Sierra: Sierra-at-Tahoe invested $5 million into a new facility located at the base of the mountain, transforming the current skier services area into a mecca for gathering and services.

The new plaza will include 9,000 square feet of indoor space with retail options, a demo center, and new restaurant. A 20,000 square-foot outdoor deck area will include fire pits, live music, and lounge chairs for skiers and riders to hangout and watch the action on the mountain.

Squaw adds Electric Car Charging stations: Squaw Valley ski resort has installed four new electric car chargers at the resort, making it the first ski resort in California to install charging stations for electric cars.

Snow-making upgrades: Both Squaw and Alpine, two resorts under common ownership, continue to increase their snowmaking systems and grooming fleets, investing over $2 million in state-of-the-art snowmaking guns, new piping and system upgrades. They are also investing $1.4 million in five new snow cats.

Tree skiing at Diamond Peak: The family-friendly resort on Tahoe’s north shore improved its glade skiing and riding by forest thinning during the summer.

The move will help reduce fire danger at Diamond Peak by increasing defensible space, and the added benefit will be improving the resort’s tree skiing area. The new area is between Battleborn and Sunnyside, located off the Crystal Ridge run.

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